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Holiday Party Bites and Finger Foods

Nancy Fann-Im

Throwing a holiday party? Serve fun, homemade hors d'oeuvre that your guests will remember. Seriously — homemade finger foods can make your party. That and awesome wine, of course. We've got both covered in this roundup of our favorite hors d'oeuvre recipes. All you have to do is pick up the ingredients, tie on a festive apron, and get cooking!

Shrimp cocktail

Oven-baked Shrimp Cocktail

• 12 large shrimp (shell on)
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp Sea salt
• 1 tsp Old bay seasoning
• Fresh lemon

1. Devein the shrimp by running a sharp knife down the back side of the shrimp. Rinse and wash the cavity out.

2. Add olive oil. Squeeze the lemon and sprinkle the Old Bay, tossing to coat.

3. Arrange shrimp on a baking sheet and place under a broiler on high for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the shrimp over. Return to the oven and broil again for 2 minutes. Remove just as the shrimp are turning pink.

4. Immediately cover the shrimp with ice and allow them to cool in the freezer for 20 minutes. Remove and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

5. Arrange sliced lemons on a serving plate and cover with shrimp. Sprinkle with a dusting of Old Bay and a healthy side of cocktail sauce.

Ideal Pairing: Albariño

In our easy-bake version of shrimp cocktail, you broil the shrimp, shell-on, removing them from the oven just when they start to turn pink, then quickly chill them to stop the cooking process. This allows for a meatier, more true shrimp taste instead of a watered-down, boiled version.

Chicken wings

Old Bay Chicken Wings

• 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, disjointed and tips removed
• 1 stick unsalted butter
• 2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning plus more for sprinkling
• 6 ounces buttermilk blue cheese
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• Fresh chives
• Salt and pepper
• Celery sticks
• Hot sauce to pass

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and remove wings from fridge to bring them to close to room temperature. We do not want the wings really cold when we apply the butter sauce. While the oven heats up, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise and chives in a bowl, mixing well. Crumble in the blue cheese, mix, adding salt and pepper to taste. Place dip in the refrigerator to set up until it's time to serve.

2. On a stovetop melt the stick of butter and add the Old Bay seasoning, whisking to combine. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour around 1/2 of this butter sauce over the wings, tossing to coat. It is best to arrange the wings on an oven-safe wire rack on a sheet pan and place in the oven (a nonstick pan can be used also). Bake the wings for 20 minutes, remove and turn wings over, returning to the oven and broiling until desired crispness. Remove and toss in the remaining butter mixture.

3. Dust the wings with additional Old Bay and serve with the blue cheese, celery and hot sauce to pass.

Ideal Pairing: Red Blend

This variation on chicken wings isn't sopping in sauce and therefore not nearly as messy to eat — perfect as a finger food for your holiday party. The secret is the Old Bay (shhh). The seasoning on these wings and the blue cheese will pair nicely with a big, bold red.

Italian Bruschetta

Bruschetta with Fresh Herbs

• 6 tbsp olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp minced rosemary
• 1 tbsp minced thyme
• Sea salt & fresh pepper to taste
• 6 Roma or plumb tomatoes, cut in half (longways)
• 1 baguette, cut pieces on an angle
• Ricotta cheese
• Prosciutto slices, cut in thirds
• 12-15 basil leaves, cut into ribbons

1. Toss the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine — then add tomatoes to coat and marinate while the oven heats to 400 degrees. Place the tomatoes slice side down directly on a baking sheet (or on a foil lined baking sheet for easy cleanup), reserve the marinade. Tomatoes will roast at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes — you want them to blister the skin and become soft. With the reserved marinade, baste one side of the baguette slices.

2. When tomatoes are done, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Place the bread in the oven, allowing to toast the tops then remove from the oven. Once tomatoes have cooled to the touch, you want to cut each of the half slices into quarters. Now it is really an assembly process from here on out.

3. Start with a spread of ricotta, then prosciutto, tomato quarters and finish with the basil ribbons.

4. Transfer slices to a serving dish and drizzle olive oil on top, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste.

Ideal Pairing: Pinot Grigio

Who doesn't love bruschetta? It's even better when you make them yourself. Once you have all the ingredients, throwing them together is easy and makes for the perfect party bite.

Cinnamon apple crisps

Apple Crisps with Eggnog Whipped Cream

• 3 Pink Lady Apples, sliced thinly by hand or with a mandolin — 1/8 inch thick
• Cinnamon powder
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• 1/8 cup your favorite eggnog
• 1 tsp powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 225° and arrange apple slices on parchment-lined baking sheet, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Place in the oven for 1.5 hours, flipping the apple slices before baking another 30 minutes until the apples are crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

2. While the apples are cooling or just before you are ready to serve them, combine heavy cream, eggnog and powdered sugar in a mixer. Beat on medium-high until white peaks start to form.

3. Place cream in a serving dish, dust with cinnamon and garnish with fresh mint.

Ideal Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

Marinated olives and herbs

Warmed Olives with Fresh Herbs

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tsp thyme leaves
• 1 tsp chopped rosemary
• 1 tsp crushed red pepper
• 1 pound brine-cured olives, such as Kalamata, Niçoise, cracked green Sicilian and Cerignola

1. Rinse the olives in cold water and dry them with a paper towel.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic. Cook the garlic 4-5 minutes until soft but not browned. Add in olives, herbs and crushed red pepper, tossing to coat the olives and just enough to warm them.

3. Remove from heat and serve warm. You can make these ahead of time and reheat or just serve cold. They can be made 3 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.

Ideal Pairing: Cabernet Franc

Stuffed muffins

Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Bites

• 1 pound hot Italian sausage (casing removed)
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 medium green pepper, diced
• 1 can diced or stewed tomatoes (not drained)
• 2 cans black eyed peas (only one of the cans drained)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Collard leaves (cut into ribbons)
• Shredded cheese
• Jalapeño (sliced)
• 6 sheets of thawed fillo dough

1. First fry the sausage in the olive oil, breaking it up with a spatula or fork as it cooks. Remove from the pan when brown and crumbly, reserving any pan drippings, and add your onions and green pepper. Fry these lightly as they should continue to have some crispness. Add your black-eyed peas and tomatoes, stirring to combine and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Return the sausage to the pan, stir to combine and continue to heat thoroughly.

3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray your muffin tins with a non-stick cooking spray. Once the fillo dough has thawed per package directions, lay individual sheets out, stacking them and coating each with a thin brush of melted butter.

4. Once you have 6 sheets stacked and buttered, use a cookie cutter larger than your muffin tin holes and cut out individual rounds.

5. Gently press your individual dough rounds into your muffin tin compartments and bake for 10-12 minutes until crisp.

6. After the fillo cups have baked, remove them from the oven and fill with a few ribbons of collards. Scoop a spoonful of the skillet black-eyed pea mixture and top with cheese and a jalapeño.

7. Place the individual cups onto a cookie sheet in preparation for going into the oven at 11:45pm. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until cheese begins to melt.

8. Let cool and serve.

Ideal Pairing: Champagne

For more wine pairings and recipes, check out our website or subscribe to one of our wine of the month clubs for a new recipe in each shipment! Cheers!

Blog originally posted to Tasting Room. Recipes provided by Tim Vidra